Through the centuries, elders have paved the way for younger generations. Creating a society whereby we can reap the rewards of their dedication and sacrifice.
People who have seen eras gone by. The world transform and human beings advance from days filled with manners, simplicity and conformity, to a technologically advanced world.
Despite all that, they have survived and endured over the span of their lives. From loss, death and falling ill, to falling prey to the challenges life deals out. These old souls, have one more fork in the road to deal with. One more life-changing obstacle, which needs not exist.
Elderly abuse is a social issue which affects the health and human rights of millions of older people around the world.
It is an issue which should not remain in the shadows of society. But which must be brought to the attention of the international community.
With the life expectancies of people ever-increasing, we as a people need to understand elderly abuse is not something which we should simply overlook, with an “agh shame” comment. We need to address this issue as one day it could be you in their seat.
The United Nations General Assembly designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It represents the one day in the year when the whole world voices its opinions to the abuse and suffering inflicted on some of our older generations.
But is elder abuse rife in Newcastle? Surely it isn’t an issue within Newcastle, after all, we have an upstanding community which respects its elderly members, right?
“We do find abuse in Newcastle, especially physical, emotional and financial abuse. There is also a lot of neglect going on,” says Emelia Lubbe, who works as a social worker consultant for La Gratitude Retirement Home.
Lubbe explains that while she cannot give statistics, she has seen several elderly people brought to La Gratitude after enduring abuse at the hands of their loved ones.
“While physical abuse is happening, there is more financial abuse going on. This is where children are using their parents’ pensions and grants while allowing the elderly to go without food and care.”
When it comes to abuse, a fundy in all things elderly, who wishes to remain anonymous says she finds neglect to be the most common form of abuse.
Having run a home for the elderly for a number of years, she explains she saw different facets of neglect.
“I saw neglect in many forms. Such as the children taking care of their parents’ basic needs, such as bathing and feeding them, but then leaving them alone in the corner.”
There is downright neglect, where children would simply ignore their parents’ existence. “In my situation at the home, it was as though the elderly reached their sell-by date. The children would make promises to visit but would never come.”
While the occasional visit on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day would take place, she explains children don’t spend quality time with their elderly parents. Allowing them to fade into the sands of time, utterly alone.
“I would have ministers and children come to visit. The elderly absolutely love having children around, as well as animals. I would really say people need to start interacting with their elderly more. Neglect is a serious form of abuse,” she says.
As sickening as abuse is against the elderly, what happens if it is not the loved ones who are the perpetrators? What happens if the abuse happens within frail care facilities?
Lubbe says there is a protocol which is followed. “The grievance procedures against the staff member needs to be investigated. From there, the necessary steps are taken against the guilty party.”
Furthermore, if an elderly person is being abused at home or at a frail care centre, Lubbe says the matter must be reported immediately. “If you know of abuse taking place and you do not report it, you can be charged and taken to court. The older person’s act is a lot like the children’s act.”
Following the abuse, the victim will need to undergo counselling in order to help them deal with the matter.
As we celebrate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day tomorrow, ensure you take a stand against the scourge of abuse against our older generation. Report abuse today and ensure the elderly live their final days in peace and harmony.